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Gray DogwoodCornus racemosa

  • Gray Dogwood shrub - Cornus racemosa
A dense, multi-stemmed, erect growing shrub with short, spreading branches. Suckers from the roots form a large colony extending in all directions. The suckers while useful for making the shrub denser will need to be removed annually once the shrub is as wide as you want it. The reddish brown young stems form a contrast to the older gray bark. The summer foliage is a dull gray-green to dark green turning in the fall to a mixture of green, red, and purple colors. The fall foliage is usually not showy. The panicles of white flowers bloom for 7-10 days starting in late spring. The white fruit matures in late summer or early fall and is inconsistently persistent. The shrub's best ornamental feature is the reddish pink color of the pedicels (fruiting stalks) that are exposed when the fruit falls. The red color persists into fall and winter. The shrub grows best in moist, well-drained soil in full sun, but is adaptable to adverse conditions including poor, dry, wet, and compacted soils, heat, drought, and heavy shade. It requires only a light pruning to produce a neat, dense, informal hedge. It can be renewed by cutting back to the ground when it becomes too large and woody. It is occasionally grown as a small tree where it can be used for foundations, entranceways, borders, or as a specimen.

Hardiness Zones

The gray dogwood can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3–8. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The gray dogwood grows to a height of 10–15' and a spread of 10–15' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow Growth Rate

This shrub grows at a slow rate, with height increases of less than 12" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this shrub, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The gray dogwood adapts to a wide range of soil conditions and can tolerate wet conditions as well as drought.


This shrub:
  • Grows in an irregular to rounded shape.
  • Can be cut back to the ground if it becomes too large and woody.
  • Blooms for 7–10 days in late May or early June, with small, creamy white flowers arranged in flat panicles.
  • Is occasionally grown as a small tree, where it can be used for foundations, entranceways, borders or specimen planting.
  • Adapts to many soil types and conditions.
  • Transplants easily.
  • Features grayish-green to dark green leaves that are narrow-elliptic to ovate-lanceolate and 2–4" long, turning reddish-purple in the fall.
  • Produces ¼" white fruit that grows on reddish-pink pedicels and matures in late summer or early fall. The pedicels are exposed when the fruit falls, adding nice fall/winter color.

Wildlife Value

The gray dogwood is a forage plant for white-tailed deer. The berries appear before most other dogwoods, making it popular with the squirrels and over 100 bird species that eat the fruit. It forms a dense thicket, providing cover and nesting sites for wildlife.


The gray dogwood is native to the eastern and midwestern United States and southern Canada. Cornus is the Latin name for dogwood, and racemosa refers to the type of compound flower arrangement (raceme). Another common name is the panicled dogwood.